Increased concerns about climate change are fueling new regulations to mitigate its potential impacts. Boston’s BERDO and New York City’s local laws 87 and 97, as just two examples, have had property owners express varying levels of concern about their impacts and implementation. But while every law has its nuances, many have common themes, notes Mike Eardley, director of Energy and Sustainability at EBI Consulting.

“Regulations might include an energy audit, which involves an engineer evaluating a property to find energy reduction opportunities in areas such as lighting, heating, and cooling,” says Eardley. “Other requirements might include retro-commissioning, a process to test building systems and identify what isn’t operating efficiently. Also, a decarbonization audit may be required, showing energy usage and its potential carbon impact.”

For property owners struggling their way up the learning curve, Eardley notes it can sometimes be best to find a strategic starting point, which will help them stay on the path to compliance and adapt as the laws evolve in the future.

Taking early and strategic action

According to Eardley, the best way to start is to carefully review new regulations. He explains that while most regulatory bodies make the regulations clear on their websites, understanding submission requirements can still be challenging. However, working with a consultant experienced in guidelines in your industry is a benefit, helping property owners take early and more strategic action.

“We recently helped a client with a decarbonization plan identify where they’re at today, the current impacts, and their highest-risk assets,” says Eardley. “It included an energy audit and retro-commissioning, which identified high-risk assets that led the client to conclude, ‘We can’t possibly meet our goals while holding this particular property.’ They ultimately decided to sell it.”

Additionally, many organizations take required regulatory actions, such as conducting an energy audit, but fall short in their execution.

“We often see property owners conduct the audit without taking the recommended actions, which can add up to missed savings,” says Eardley. “A recent study found a 6% savings on average for retro-commissioning across a large sampling of buildings, which can quickly add up.”

Staying focused on the future

As energy laws evolve, property owners understandably want to know what’s coming next. Tracking emerging trends in the news is one action to consider, but another is leveraging partnerships.

“We invest a lot of time researching future trends,” says Eardley. “And if you own a real estate portfolio, certainly monitor the news, but also work with partners who have their finger on the pulse of emerging energy trends.”

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